Nibong Tebal's Deepfried Secret

Don and Mylene took us to this corner coffee shop last Sunday for a scrumptious lunch. They both are past retirement age but boy, do they have the energy to shame twentysomethings and thirtysomethings! As Green Crusaders for the environment, they go all over Malaysia to give free talks on recycling and composting. Yes, free. And they’re in their 60s!
Anyway, we often catch up whenever they come over to Penang island or when we go to Bukit Mertajam. And lunch or dinner always feature in our plans.
This place they took us to last Sunday was in Nibong Tebal. Called Swee Garden, it’s located just behind Maybank and when we reached about 1pm, the place was buzzing with busy lunching folks.
The specialty, says Don, is the deepfried pig’s trotters. (Don is a retired engineer. He used to work on the Hong Kong MTR project back in the late 1970s. Over lunch, we chatted about the state of traffic in Penang and he proposes that it is POSSIBLE to build an undersea subway system connecting Penang island to Seberang Jaya and beyond. He has the expertise and experience honed from his Hong Kong days. Unfortunately the powers-that-be aren’t listening. More Malaysia Bolehness, I suppose.)
When we were there, he ordered the front leg which is supposedly LESS fatty than the back leg. I suppose this is true as my aunt usually buys the front leg (or what we Chinese call pig’s hand) as it is less fatty and less oily and hence, not so cholesterol-laden.

deep-fried pig's trotter
deep-fried pig's trotter

If you like crispy fatty siew yoke, you would die for this tender, melt-in-the-mouth pig trotters. The skin was to the right touch of crisp while the inside meat was soft, tasty and oily. It still makes me hungry thinking of this dish.
The other dishes we had were boiled octopus with a sprinkling of garlic oil, to be eaten with a vinegary chili sauce. I know. Cholesterol again! But hey, I don’t eat octopus everyday so it was such a treat. Sometimes the simplest things are the most yummy, in this case, fresh boiled octopus.
Boiled octopus with garlic oil
Boiled octopus with garlic oil

Another dish that went really well with our plain white rice was steamed stingray, Teochew-style which meant lots of salted vegetables with sour plums and chili padi. The dish was everything you wanted a dish to be – salty, spicy, tangy, with exceptionally fresh stingray fin. It was another winner as we kept scooping up the gravy.
steamed stingray fin teochew style
steamed stingray fin teochew style

Of course, we couldn’t do justice to ourselves if we didn’t order some greens. We opted for something with a kick of sambal – stirfried sweet potato leaves.
And to round it all up, we had our fill of vitamins with extra thick ambula juice. Imagine freshly squeezed ambula (buah kedondong) mixed with sour plums. It was a concoction made in heaven. We called for a jug of this and each of us had about 2 glasses of this vitamin-rich, green drink. It was rather apt to wash down all the fat and oil from the dishes we’d ordered.
freshly squeezed ambula juice, a local favourite
freshly squeezed ambula juice, a local favourite

I suppose Swee Garden is not a secret for most Nibong Tebal people. But I relished discovering this coffee shop (thanks to Don and Mylene) because it showed why rural Malaysia is still pretty damn good when it comes to food. It was simple fare, absolutely no frills but every morsel was incredibly hearty and filling.
A must-stop if you ever pass through Nibong Tebal town!

5 thoughts on “Nibong Tebal's Deepfried Secret”

    • Try it. It is a good combination and great with rice! A good dish if you want something exciting for your palate! Do they do it this style in S’pore?

    • Haha, the thought is so appetizing. Wait till you get the real stuff. Smooth slices of stingray slathered with lovely spicy and sour gravy. Errrr. It’s making me hungry too now!

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